insurance house insideWhile it is obligatory to insure your home if you rent – a tenant is liable for damage to a property including the common spaces of an apartment building – it isn’t if you own your own home. However, it is advisable that you have some sort of cover for disaster such as fire and flood, as well as burglary at the very least.

Regardless of whether you insure your home, you must take out civil liability insurance (responsabilitée civile propriétaire) in the event that something that occurs on your property (such as a falling tree or a water leak between apartments) affects your neighbour’s home.

Home and contents insurance

This is called a contrat assurance multirisques habitation or assurance multirisques vie privée or la multirisque. It should cover you for the cost of repairs or rebuilding including permanent fixtures and fittings within your home, such as fitted kitchens and bathrooms due to damage caused by:

– natural disasters
– fire
– storms
– floods
– burst pipes
– explosions
– lightning
– theft

It should also give you civil liability insurance (responsabilitée civile propriétaire).

However, you must check the small print and ensure that you understand it so you are fully aware of what is covered, and for how much – and what isn’t.

In regards to theft, valuable objects can only be insured up to a proportion of the total insured value of your contents (often 30 percent) so you may want to take out additional cover.

When calculating the value of your home, you need to take into account the cost of rebuilding it, and replacing furniture and fittings. The current market value (valeur vénale) is used to work out the amount of cover and depreciation is taken into account.

What are premiums based on?

Premiums vary according to number of rooms, the area in which you live and, if you’re in an apartment which floor you live on. If your home is unoccupied for long periods make sure you tell your insurer as many policies do not cover your home beyond a specified absence.

When taking out insurance you will be asked a standard list of questions about the property, including how large it is (measured in the number of square metres). Fire alarms are not required by either French law or most insurers, however they are recommended for safety reasons.

If you are buying a house you can take over the existing insurance policy and in many cases if you say nothing it is assumed that this is what you plan to do so if you want your own – always recommended – make sure you make this known. You may need to present another policy to the notaire before the acte de vente.

Other points to consider:

* If you are wanting to build on a piece of land you an assurance dommages-ouvrage is compulsory.

* If you are renting, the proprietor can insert a clause into the tenancy agreement allowing s/he to terminate the tenancy immediately if you do not have adequate insurance – contrat assurance multirisques habitation.

* Also consider mortgage insurance – this should include paying off the outstanding mortgage in case of your death.

* French home insurance is automatically renewed each year. If you wish to cancel it, you must give at least one month’s notice – in writing – otherwise, you are obliged to continue with the policy.

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